Changes to Grades, Final Assessments, Course Outlines, Academic Standing, and Course Withdrawal Deadline

Posted: March 20, 10:30 a.m.

Sections updated April 21, 9:00 a.m. marked with *

The transitions of the past weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been extremely challenging. The University of Alberta is working hard to minimize negative impacts to both students and instructors. We thank you for your flexibility and resilience in making these adjustments. Our community’s health, safety, and mental well-being is of paramount importance. 

We are still in the early phases of the pandemic. We know that more of our students are or may be ill, isolated, or caring for others. We also know that in the coming weeks, our human and technical resources will be stretched even further than they are now as our faculty and staff are impacted. 

The changes detailed here are meant to ensure equity among students, preserve academic integrity in these challenging circumstances, and to manage the issues presented by an uncertain future including the impact on our students and human resources. We do this not only with our current semester in mind, but also with a desire to preserve our traditional academic structure as much as possible for Spring and Summer 2020.

As a result of the exceptional circumstances presented by the pandemic, and with the endorsement of Deans’ Council and GFC Academic Standards Committee, GFC Executive has unanimously approved a number of changes to our normal practices in order to enable instructors and students to successfully complete the Winter 2020 term. 

We have outlined the specifics of these changes and their impacts on you as an instructor below. Please read the details of this message and the content reflected in the associated links thoroughly. These changes are designed to set students up for continued academic success.

We know this is a different approach than we typically follow. All post-secondary institutions across the world will be faced with the same challenges. While we anticipate many different approaches will be developed, we also know that other institutions will be aware of, and consider, the exceptional circumstances for the Winter 2020 term in evaluating transcripts. 

There are still many uncertainties to be resolved, including how the sector will align these approaches, however we are confident we are making the best possible decisions for the University of Alberta and our students. While we can’t control all of the external factors, we are engaging with our partner institutions, key stakeholders and funding agencies to identify solutions that minimize potential negative impacts on scholarships, funding applications and admissions to other institutions. 

Frequently asked Questions

We have communicated these changes to students as well, and it may be helpful for you to review the student messaging available.


For all courses for the Winter 2020 term, the process by which the term marks will be translated into a final letter grade for the course will be replaced, resulting in one of the following: 

    1. CR (credit): completed requirements, no grade point value assigned, credit provided
    2. NC (no credit): failure, no grade point value assigned, no credit provided
    3. IN (Incomplete): if there is insufficient information to assign CR or NC, instructors should assign IN. 
Exemptions to this grading scheme may be established by the Deans for reasons related to accreditation and licensure after appropriate consultation with other impacted Deans (i.e. issues of service teaching). If an exception is made for a particular program or course, students will be informed by their Dean no later than March 27, 2020.

Updated April 21, 9:00 a.m.

  • All instructors must find an alternative to in-person final assessments for each Winter 2020 course that they teach for both undergraduate and graduate courses.
  • Faculties strongly encourage instructors to pursue alternate forms of assessment other than traditional final examinations delivered in a remote format. Resources for creating alternate types of assessments can be accessed through the Centre for Teaching and Learning
  • All final assessments and the few proctored final exams will be delivered remotely and will be held according to the schedule previously published by the Registrar.  
  • Final exams will not be done through a remote proctored assessment unless approved by the Dean (or delegate) for exceptional circumstances.  
  • Instructors must inform students of the format of their final exam or assessment and receive a modified course syllabus that communicates this information clearly no later than March 27, 2020. 
  • This deadline allows for students to make an informed decision before the revised withdrawal deadline (April 8, 2020). 

We understand that having a sense of relative performance within a course may be very necessary for some students applying to highly competitive programs.

  • We are developing a downloadable letter about the CR/NC grading change, as well as advice and guidance instructors can use if they choose to provide commentary to indicate how a student performed within a course. While this won't replace traditional grading, it will be a useful addition to certain applications.   

All Winter 2020 course outlines for both undergraduate and graduate courses  must be updated to outline all changes to exams, assessments and grading and shared with students no later than March 27, 2020. 

  • In order to facilitate this work in a consistent and expedient manner, the COVID-19 Subcommittee on Academic Impacts will distribute a template with the required new regulations. The cover page template will be circulated by the Office of the Registrar on Monday, March 23, 2020 by end of business day.
  • This template will explain the rationale for the mandatory changes to examinations and grading regulations.
  • Instructors must complete the template cover page for each of the courses they teach and attached to your current syllabus to be an official record of the changes.
  • The completed cover page template to the syllabus must be distributed to students by instructors no later than March 27, 2020. 

Information applies to both undergraduate and graduate students

  • Academic standing is used to determine the eligibility of students to continue in or graduate from their programs.
  • Academic Standing Regulations may be modified by the Dean of each Faculty to minimize any negative impact on students as a result of the changes to grading, exams, and final assessments for the Winter 2020 term.
  • Students will be notified by the Dean of their Faculty no later than April 1, 2020.
  • The deadline has been extended to April 8, 2020.
This is being done in order to give students the time they need to make an informed decision, based on the changes to remote delivery, exams, and assessment practices, about whether they should complete or withdraw from Winter 2020 term courses.

Important Note



In the event that the University must cease all activities, all grades which have not yet been submitted and approved will be considered to be Incomplete (IN) temporarily. 

  • When activities resume, Credit (CR) and Non-credit (NC) grades will be determined based on whether or not the student has demonstrated achievement of the majority of the course learning objectives and learning outcomes as outlined in the revised course outline (syllabus) in effect on March 27, 2020.